I won't call New Zealand a "mouse that roars" but I will say it has real gumption. It is gumption for worldwide marketing based not on sheer production base on the ascendency of new fruit varieties.

A recent news release describes the development f the Enzablue brand from New Zealand Turners and Growers.

From the release:

• T&G developing 30 hectares of blueberries on its Kerifresh orchards in Kerikeri.
• 10ha planted in 2011, 10ha in 2012 and 10ha in 2013.
• 55,000 blueberry plants producing 307 tonnes of fruit when full production is reached in 2021.
• Four new varieties: O’Neal, Centra Blue, Island Blue and Nui.
• Launching global ENZABlue brand to market all blueberry varieties.
Turners & Growers has announced it is developing 30 hectares of blueberries on the company’s Kerifresh orchards in Kerikeri as it prepares to launch a new global ENZABlue brand for all blueberries marketed by the company domestically and globally.

Turners & Growers, New Zealand’s leading distributor, marketer and exporter of premium fresh produce and the largest corporate horticulture investor in New Zealand is focused on growing the size of the blueberry market here and internationally by extending the selling season with four new blueberry varieties from the Plant and Food Research breeding program.

The varieties, O’Neal, Centra Blue, Island Blue and Nui, developed in New Zealand and already grown here, will see New Zealand blueberries marketed ‘across a wider seasonal spectrum’ according to Turners & Growers CEO, Jeff Wesley.

The blueberry development will see two of Turners & Growers companies, Kerifresh and Delica working in partnership on the project to grow and export the premium berries.

Kerifresh General Manager, Alan Kerr says Kerifresh has undertaken growing trials to identify the blueberry varieties to plant in the development, while Delica has the export markets for fruit.

“There’s increasing demand in Asian markets for blueberries and New Zealand fruit is recognized as some of the best in the world.”

It’s the first time Kerifresh has produced blueberries on the company’s orchards, which are New Zealand’s largest producer of lemons and mixed citrus and are developing New Zealand’s first ENZARed™ kiwifruit orchards. Alan Kerr says the company is investing $1.3 million to convert old lemon orchards to blueberries and the first 10 hectares is already in development.

“Once in full development, this investment in Blueberries will create another 34 full time equivalent jobs here in Kerikeri. We will also invest in a dedicated post harvest facility for packing the fruit.”

Turners & Growers Managing Director, Jeff Wesley says because of their high nutritional value, taste and colour, blueberries are a premium berry variety which is highly sought after by health-conscious consumers, chefs, cooks and producers of berry products around the world. “Blueberries are high in Vitamin C and antioxidants and their health benefits make them sought after by global consumers.”

He says the move into blueberries is part of Turners & Growers ongoing investment in large-scale horticultural developments. “For New Zealand’s horticultural exports to increase in volume and return, we must constantly innovate through high-value new varieties that will deliver outstanding taste, flavour and texture to increasingly discerning customers. ENZA is one of the world’s best known produce brands and we want to leverage that strength and reputation through our ENZABlue Blueberry marketing.”

Following Turners & Growers merger with ENZA in 2003 the two companies have focused on innovation through the successful marketing and commercialisation of new fruit varieties for export from New Zealand including JAZZ™ and ENVY™ apples and the world’s first commercialised red kiwifruit, ENZARed™.

Currently around 600 tonnes of Blueberries are produced in New Zealand each year for export.

TK: United Nations stats show New Zealand produced about $3.1 million worth of blueberries in 2008, ranking the country ninth in the world and well behind heavyweight producers such as No. 1 U.S. ($249 million) and No. 2 Canada ($150 million).

As compared with apples and citrus, I wonder how blueberry varieties can be differentiated. Perhaps the real breakthrough would be to produce a blueberry that is red, if you get my meaning.

But if new Enzablue varieties capture the imagination of consumers and growers and fill needed market niches, then the mouse will roar yet again.